Why Account-Based Marketing Is Nonsense

By Jay Valentine

AMB -Doing What Prospects Hate!

VAR Marketing Mistakes

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is one of those things that sounds good but is nonsense.

ABM sounds like everyone ought to embrace it: Focus on highly targeted B2B customers, send personalized messages, and, “Wowee!”, you have solved the problem of why most B2B tech companies cannot generate the revenue for a profitable exit.

You have solved the problem of why over 50 percent of B2B sales reps cannot make quota. You have solved the problem of 40 percent or more B2B sales turnover each year. Except you haven’t.

ABM is about focusing on key accounts and unloading all your resources on them personalized and delivered by email robots.

Remember the old direct mail: Dear Mr. (& first_name, last_name)? ABM is the email equivalent. Robotic personalization. Nobody believed it then and they are not going to believe it now. Buyers are not stupid; ABM believes they are.

The VP of Sales, VP of Marketing demands every rep load up on Yesware “leads” and send them personalized messages tailored to what some hapless prospect once said in social media or a paper they downloaded.

Really people? Who among us believes personalizing SPAM makes it something other than SPAM?

Marketers expect better reactions from personalization, but recipients know it is nothing but part of the seven emails they get from Marketo-Yesware-SPAM machines.

ABM tries to be a solution to an inherent problem: The B2B market has changed, buyers do not want to talk to salespeople, VPs and Marketing VPs need to do something, there is nothing they can do to make direct selling productive, so ABM may save their jobs for a bit longer.

There are times when the market changes and no jiggering of the current direct sales model will work. This is one of them.

ABM is a strategy more about keeping marketing people employed, selling useless sales platforms while doing nothing to forestall the obsolescence of the direct B2B sales model.

Sales models, like living things, do not want to die. They will fight like crazy in the face of certain death to deny their inevitable fate.

When online retail started eating up chain stores, malls died.  The solution was “omni-channel.”

Well, it worked for a couple of retailers; you can count them on one hand. The rest are dying slowly — some like JCPenney are dying more visibly. Look at any strip mall and see the empty buildings. Omnichannel did nothing to slow down retail model’s death.

When a business model is obsolete, there is no — absolutely NO — solution that will make it work by adjusting the edges. Success demands an entirely new business model.

On-line buyers, people who want to get a complex product do not care about personalization. They care about getting information, comparative in nature, now, without having to deal with an over-paid sales rep who is going to deliver a personalized message.

Buyers do not want to answer, “What is your pain?” questions. Their pain is the seven ABM emails, personalized with stupid Yesware products they know came from a stranger who is the age of their middle child.

The force keeping ABM alive is the existing direct sales infrastructure. If ABM doesn’t work, they are out of a job — actually, a career as there is no place to go.

People engage with humans for certain products or offerings. Not so much in B2B anymore. Most of the products one buys in the B2B space require no human interaction. None.

Recognize that. Fire the marketing and direct sales types. Reimagine how people really buy and deliver sales platforms that are highly intuitive and give the buyer the comparative info they seek with no chirpy kid calling them 15 minutes after they visit.

Those who can deliver highly relevant data, with human interaction, will be the first to win in the new B2B sales world.

Reprinted from Software Executive Magazine On Line

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